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How My Partner Taught Our Daughter That Broken Is Beautiful

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Yesterday, my partner helped me teach my daughter a lesson about life in a way she did not expect.

In our bedroom, there is a statue of a stag that sits on the dresser. Yesterday, it fell and broke. While I sat at our table gluing the stag back together, my daughter commented that she could still see the cracks.

I had done the best I could, but of course there was no way to glue the stag back together seamlessly. It will forever bear the scars of its fall.

“It’s broken. It’s ugly. It’s ruined,” she said.

I became increasingly distressed by her commentary, because I’ve often heard these words applied to my life because of my mental illness.

Broken. Ugly. Ruined.

Hearing my daughter’s words, my partner stood, went to the bookshelf and rummaged through the pen canister.

“What are you doing?” my daughter asked.

He didn’t say anything. Instead he picked up the statue and used a gold metallic Sharpie to trace all of the glued cracks so that they were highlighted in gold.

As he did this, I remembered when I had long ago read about a Japanese practice called “Kintsugi.” In this practice, the Japanese fill in cracks in vases or pottery with gold, treating the break or crack as part of the history and beauty of the object, instead of as a flaw. Instantly I was relieved and began explaining this to my daughter.

She still didn’t get it. “It’s still broken,” she said.

My partner said, “No, it’s beautiful.”

Someday my daughter will understand.

I love him.

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Originally published: October 31, 2016
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